Outplacement testimonial: Bridging the career gap between past and future

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When Catherine (name changed) started working with Career Evolution, we had to address the knock her confidence had taken before we could start working with her to find her next career move.

She explained:

“It has been a rollercoaster of a journey. Before I started working with Sue, I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong or why it was happening to me. I felt abandoned. Fortunately, the company I was working with agreed to provide outplacement support for me, and things started to improve once I met Sue.

“The first thing she had me do was understand my own individual story. She also worked with me to help me overcome the self-doubt I was experiencing and identify my skills and become confident in them again.

“Sue provided me with a framework for a structured approach. If being made redundant enables you to draft the next chapter of your life, then Sue is the editor reviewing it! She worked with me to sense check and edit everything that I was doing. She provided advice and definitely kept me action-focused and research-based.

“Throughout this time, Sue has been a consistent and constant presence. Basically, she has provided me with a bridge from the past to the future. Being made redundant is a difficult experience and moving on from that is a hard process. Sue has kept me accountable throughout – even when I didn’t want to be – and enabled me to articulate my own experience into chunks of knowledge and transferable skills I could use to position myself going forward.

“I think the biggest benefits of working with Career Evolution was that fact that Sue understands the rules and laws of getting a job. She can advise on the practicalities of fashioning your CV and approaching interviews, and how to leverage your network. She makes you really think about what you want to do next, and she allows you to truly believe in what you should be doing and the type of role you should be securing next.

“Don’t be fooled though. It isn’t Sue doing the work, it’s you! I found that I was at my desk for six hours a day or more– working hard! However, it worked. Within four months – of hard work – I secured a job that I am very excited to be starting in the new year. Sue’s work with me was invaluable. She really helped me get rid of the noise and find clarity.”

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Action stations: Launching a truly effective job search campaign

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Just like any campaign, your job search campaign requires careful planning and a strategic approach. I have heard many people say, that looking for a new job is like a full-time role in itself. To be honest, I can see where the similarities lie. A successful job search will require extensive commitment and determination.

Traditionally job searches were primarily focused around transactional actions. Looking at the job pages and job adverts, both online and offline and applying for appropriate roles. This would have been supported by work with recruiters and head hunters, particularly if the role was at a senior level or within a specific sector. It was largely unheard of to consider word of mouth and your individual relationships as a likely place to find your next role.

Your little black book of contacts

This has now changed, and many people are finding their personal network as potentially the most fertile ground for securing their next position. With the advent of LinkedIn, the recruitment landscape changed.  Your little black book of contacts became digital, and it was much easier to understand the reach of your network. It also more easily allowed you to connect to people you had met that had inspired or impressed you.

It’s good to talk

Today, your network is your best starting point for your job search campaign. Catch-up with ex-colleagues and bosses and use the opportunity to explain you are looking for a new role. You never know, they might have the perfect role for you, or know of another organisation that does. Ask advice from, and get talking to, industry contacts. They might be aware of job opportunities or even just have some good insight that will help you in your job search. You might even find that if you establish a connection with someone, that a role will be created based on the particular skills and benefits that you can bring to an organisation.

Obviously, there is no guarantee that your network can help you find your next role, and there is still an important role for recruiters and head hunters to play – and to a lesser extent the job boards and adverts too. However, by ensuring your network knows you are looking, your contacts are more likely to have you front of mind when an opportunity does come along.

If you would like to find out how we can help in the outplacement with your team, please contact us today.

Taking back control

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In my many years’ experience of working with senior executives going through outplacement, I am struck time and again by the significant impact that a role being made redundant has on the individual that was doing the role. While it is easy to say a decision to make a role redundant isn’t personal, it is harder for the person at the other end of the decision to not take it as such. A big part of my early work with these individuals is to reassure them that it isn’t and give them the framework to take back control.

The opportunity to experience outplacement should always be seen as a positive thing. It is an opportunity for an employee to take stock of the direction that their career was heading. Working out if it is the right direction. If it isn’t, it’s also the time to work out what is.

Ask the right questions

My role in these instances isn’t to provide a neatly packaged answer. It is to ask the right questions to enable the other person to see the bigger picture. From there, they can then work out what they want from their next career move.

It might be that outplacement is an opportunity to re-evaluate what is important to them and their future.  This could mean a change in career, sector or location. It is also an opportunity to consider the negotiable and non-negotiable elements of a future job prospect. Since the initial lockdown in 2020, many people have discovered benefits in working from home at least part of the time. This might now form a non-negotiable element of some people’s career requirements. Likewise, salary expectations and types of working environments are all important considerations.

Stay true to your plan

It is all too easy for job hunters to look for something comparable with their last role when they are applying for their next career move. And if that is where they want to be, then there is nothing wrong with that. But, another benefit of outplacement is that a Career Consultant will talk through options. Perhaps even remind the employee of the non-negotiables that they identified at the start.

If you would like to find out how we can help in the outplacement with your team, please contact us today.

Interview you!

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We all know how important it is to be prepared for a job interview. Once upon a time, this involved making sure you knew where you were going, how you were going to get there, what you were going to wear and what you needed to prepare for the interview itself. However, today with the increasing use of technology and the greater levels of complexity brought about by Covid, going into an interview scenario can involve a little more preparation.

Well versed and well prepared

Preparation is the key to getting this right, whatever form your interview takes. Don’t be daunted and remember that nerves are natural; if we felt complacent, it would be a sign of not being engaged or really wanting to win the interview and get the job.

Virtually in real life

Although something that was already happening, certainly since the pandemic there has been a marked increase in interviews being carried out virtually and this is still very much the case despite relaxation and removal in some part of the UK of social distancing. Zoom and Teams have become such as fixture in the working world now, that it is natural that they are more frequently used for interviewing too.  If you are invited to interview via the screen, it is important that you attach the same level of gravitas to the situation as you would for an in-person interview. You still need to prepare and turn up on time, dressed appropriately for the interview.

Your interviewer might only be able to see you from the chest up, but it is recommended to dress as though you are in the room with them. What you are wearing and how you are feeling come across to the other person, even when the conversation is carried out online. Clients I have worked with have felt substantially better when dressed appropriately from head to toe, including putting their shoes on.  Check your equipment is working properly before the meeting and that your backdrop is suitably professional too – even if you are working from your kitchen or spare room. While there is some leniency for technical problems, childcare issues and animal invasions, can take you off your guard.

Bringing it face-to-face

In person interviews are on the rise now, and even if your first interview is via a screen, there is a good chance your second interview might be face-to-face. If this is the case, make the most of being in the same room as the person – or panel – carrying out the interview, as you will find it much easier to get your personality across and hopefully connect with them. With the ongoing restrictions around the pandemic, make sure you follow current rules and also keep within the parameters you feel comfortable with.  While elbow bumps might work for some people, if you don’t feel comfortable shaking hands at the moment, you don’t need to feel compelled to do so.

Smile and enjoy!

As daunting as the interview process can be, a big part of the process is about seeing if you fit with the company culture – and if the company culture fits with you. Smile, be friendly and be your authentic self. Your work is a big part of your life, so it makes sense to find an organisation that suits you.

If you would like to find out how we can help, please contact us today.

Preventing illness – knowing when to take a break

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As we enter autumn and winter, many of us will get our annual cold. With many of us still working from home, it’s interesting to look at how employees and employers cope when faced with the challenge of ‘being off work’ due to illness, when you are already working from home. To begin with, how can you be ‘not at work’ when you live there? If you don’t turn your computer on, are you not at work? If you don’t walk into your office space at home, are you not at work? It’s a minefield that warrants some clarification for everyone concerned.

All being well

With the widespread adoption of working from home if you are able to, there has been an increased level of honesty and trust introduced into the conversation. You know in yourself when you’re not firing on all cylinders and meeting your usual standards of productivity. But conveying that to your employer is not always as simple as it sounds.

There are a multitude of ailments that can impact you – particularly in the current economic and social climate – and not all of these are readily apparent. They can be mental health issues, such as anxiety and stress, which are more difficult to identify, articulate into symptoms, and then treat. Also, one illness can feed into another, so stress can lead to anxiety, which can lead to depression, for example.

Having time to yourself

We’ve already looked in earlier articles at making sure that you and your employees are not working without respite. It’s important to acknowledge the necessity for taking a holiday, ‘a week off’, even if you’re just day-tripping in the car or doing some DIY around the house. It’s a switch-off from work and a mental ‘change of scene’ – a break from working life. Mental health and wellbeing are perhaps even more important in the present time. And acknowledging some time to yourself will allow you recharge your batteries – this will help with both your physical and mental health.

It’s equally important that if you are unwell, you should recognise the fact and take the time off you need to get better. It’s one thing working through a cold from the comfort of your home. But if you suffer an illness with flu or something more serious, then you shouldn’t be trying to get that report out from your sickbed, or be constantly checking your emails. You will get better quicker if you take the time you need to get on top of your symptoms and seek out treatment for them where necessary.

People talk about the everyday stress and anxiety, as well as the physical strains of the last 18 months. Any job has all the usual stresses of meeting deadlines, managing workloads and working efficiently. To do it properly you need to make sure that everyone, from managers to staff, are able to be at their best. That means knowing when to step back for a moment and take a break. The benefits will be felt for all concerned in the long-term.

Overcoming ‘them and us’ – how to address tensions between WFH and office-based staff

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Amid all the turmoil, the pandemic and how it’s been handled has divided opinion. People have found themselves in various camps – for example, essential worker or furloughed worker, or able to work from home (WFH) or not. If you’re in one camp, by definition you can’t be in the other. And businesses and their owners have found themselves stuck in the middle of all this, to a certain extent, balancing government guidance with common sense. They want what’s best and right for their business, but also what’s the best outcomes for their employees too.

Several different elements influence opinion on each side. To return to work do you need to be fully vaccinated? And does that include the new bonus booster? Is all this at your employer’s discretion or is it up to you? Do you need masks and social distancing in the workplace – and is everyone unified and comfortable with these across-the-board rules?

Friction in the workplace

Many aren’t comfortable and the WFH culture has caused as much division as the problems it has solved. People who are able to continue to WFH are doing so, but many companies have decided that the initiative is finished, and their staff should be in the office during normal hours again without excuse. This doesn’t work for everyone however. Families with young children, for example, have become used to the ease with which they could carry out childcare, or else take their youngsters to and from school. Or to help care for elderly relatives. The flexibility for many people, especially those with a long commute, has been welcome – as long as there is no compromise with regards to work output.

Many offices have already decided to adapt their working model and jettison office space. Superfluous offices are now lying idle, which is causing a business quandary of its own for landlords. Others have moved furniture around, to rearrange layouts to give staff more space, only for but a fraction of them to return to the office. This is creating a very ‘them’ and ‘us’ culture between workers, which is resulting in tension in the workplace.

WFH vs office-based?

Should it be one rule for one employee, another for another? If it suits one person to work from home, but another to be in the office nine-to-five, which one of them is right? Each individual case is different. These are the kind of challenges facing HR departments and professionals, as we go forward out of the pandemic. Diffusing these opposite views and bringing staff together again to work as a cohesive whole is not going to as easy as first thought.

A new dilemma

It’s creating a new dilemma for HR professionals and undue stress for staff. Some people are resigning if they are not being listened to on their WFH demands, while others are dismayed that the firm they stopped working for in the office (in March 2020 to WFT) is now a pale shadow of its former self on their return. It’s a fortunate person indeed that feels no sense of change on the other side of this pandemic. But what’s important now is making staff feel comfortable, wanted and most of all confident in the company’s future – and to feel part of that future too.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Stronger together – mergers and acquisitions

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There’s a lot for businesses to take in at the moment. The autumn is traditionally a very busy time of year for many companies, with the end of the summer holiday season and the rush to get everything completed before that next big deadline – Christmas. Due to all the hectic activity, it’s sometimes difficult to focus on looking ahead while you’re in the vortex of the here and now. But it’s important to look to the future and plan out ways to ensure resilience against challenges that are no doubt on the horizon. Currently there is a lot of mergers and acquisitions activity in the marketplace.

Championing change

The logistics of two companies blending into one by whatever means is a challenge for HR managers and employees alike. Whenever mergers and acquisitions (M&As) take place, there is always upheaval. This disturbance can bring with it its own challenges – changes that will have to be navigated by all parties.

Keeping all employees updated with the latest communications is important and identifying Change Ambassadors, representing different parts of the business can prove very effective.  If clear benefits can be seen and demonstrated, staff will generally be more onside. Sharing information throughout the company is key to this and transparency between management levels must be maintained. This will engender trust and provide everyone with a clear picture of the state of play. As mergers and acquisitions take place, progress can be fast or slow – but whatever the pace, it will bring with it change and your company should be prepared for it when it happens.

Now’s the time to futureproof

At Career Evolution, we can help you, your HR managers and employees navigate the turmoil that often surrounds large scale business changes. Our Consultants and Coaches can help you find the right balance of intervention from ‘Navigating Change Workshops’, identifying and supporting the role of Change Ambassadors, and, if roles are made redundant, support those individuals at all levels who will have to exit the business.

If you would like to find out how we can help, please contact us today.

Let’s get back to business!

Despite the fact that all around us there are still reminders of the pandemic – from stories and statistics on the news, to masks – there is now a real sense of normality returning for many people. There are a variety of reasons for this, from the furlough scheme ending and summer holidays finishing, to children returning to school and students back to college and university. Other factors too, such as international travel being permitted, have led to people who haven’t been able to carry out their jobs as they would, getting back to normal – or being able to head abroad on holiday, or to visit relatives. There does seem to finally be a very real sense of ‘back to work and business as usual’.

Stop, start

The end of summer holidays seems to be a significant factor in normality returning. For many, last year was a tough year – whether business-wise, financially, mentally or socially. Many people found themselves spending 2020 firefighting to stay afloat and not taking holidays. This is true both of people trying to run their own businesses and employees who have been adapting to very different working methods than they were used to. The year – and the beginning of 2021 – felt very stop-start. We weren’t allowed to take holidays, then we were. We could meet friends and go out for a meal, then we couldn’t. We were back in the office, then we were in lockdown again. It disrupted many peoples’ routines and so many of us are creatures of habit. Re-establishing a sense of normality has not been that easy for many – be it in their working, social or day-to-day lives.

A mental reset

The lack of holidays has had a major impact on mental wellbeing and the successive lockdowns took their toll on many people. Being able to get out and about again, be it just to shop or to meet people socially, has started to make all the difference to peoples’ wellbeing. The clean break of a holiday ‘away from it all’ has provided a mental reset for many, and given them the impetus to go back to the office, as and when it is required. There’s nothing like a change of scene for helping people to be able to relax and for those of use lucky enough to, actually going on holiday has finally brought a sense of closure to an 18-month period that has been like no other.

Offices are beginning to open again and in many cases, managers are expecting staff to start being present on site. Work from home worked very well during the lockdown for some people, but for others it was detrimental to both their work and their health. The separation of work and home is often seen as beneficial, while the flipside is that ‘work from home’ has provided opportunities and all kinds of savings that have been welcomed. But companies can’t retain ‘fright-mode’ and it’s refreshing to see the business landscape moving forward once again in a more recognisable fashion. People are now making decisions in the same way as they would have pre-pandemic – with looking forward to the future and planning back on the agenda.

Busyness is back

Most staff are hoping to operate a hybrid model of working, whereby they are in the office some of the time and work from home too. However, some companies are going straight back into ‘work from office’ mode again, and expect staff to be present all the time, as they were before the pandemic. This hasn’t suited everyone, but some companies are being strict on this. It should be about what works for both parties – and discussions should be initiated to iron out any disagreements over what is best and most beneficial for everyone.

Having had a holiday and with the children back in school, people are feeling reinvigorated once more. The autumn is often a time of renewed activity, even in normal times. But this year seems even more hectic for many, as everyone gets back to busyness.

One for all or one for one? Combating silo mentality in the workplace

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It is far too easy for silos to develop in the workplace. When this happens, it can lead to a lack of communication and common goals between teams, the hoarding of knowledge and a breakdown of trust. It can all have a major impact on overall team morale. Unfortunately, a workplace silo mentality isn’t restricted to certain sectors. It is a well-known and documented phenomenon across almost every sector there is.

The perfect storm

When you add the challenges of the recent pandemic to the historic challenges of a business you can create the perfect storm for silos to establish. This is true even in companies where this previously wasn’t a problem.  Companies and employees are tackling the combined challenges of trying to keep businesses going with teams working in the office, working on the factory floor, working from home, or even up until very recently, on furlough.

The opportunity to work from home has been embraced by many people. However, not every role can lend itself to being sited away of the official place of work.  Some roles, for say in manufacturing, require employees to be present in the factory. Other roles, such as receptionists and front of house roles, need to be based in-situ. Otherwise, how can they welcome visitors and all the other jobs that require face-to-face interactions?

In businesses where there is a clear split between employees that can work from home and those that can’t, it’s important that this differentiation is acknowledged and addressed. If it’s ignored, it has the potential to lead to further divides, and workplace cohesion and employee engagement will suffer.

Creating a unified team – remotely

Even with the current challenges facing businesses, it is still possible to get the different areas of the business working together. Key to this is good communication. It’s amazing the difference that open and honest communications can make with your team. Explain the rationale behind why certain people have the flexibility to work from home and others haven’t. If the business reason and approach is clear, people are often more accepting of the situation.

You also need to think about what you are trying to achieve as a business. How different areas and individuals can contribute and collaborate to make this happen. Even your remote teams can collaborate, as platforms like Zoom and Teams have made this much easier. You might also want to consider opportunities for team training or even softer activities to get people working and talking together.

Your senior management team will play a vital role in making this all happen. So, you might want to consider what support they need to enable them to work in this different environment and break down any of the barriers that have developed over the last 18 months.  Contact us today to see how we can help with coaching and navigating change.

No-fly zone: can things return to normal when things still aren’t?

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Employers and employees are currently moving through unchartered territories.  As the working world tries to return to a semblance of normal, there are constant obstacles to enabling this to happen.  Whether it’s the conversation around return to the office vs. working from home, or the expectation of face-to-face meetings and live events returning, just how can businesses return to ‘normal’, when the situation still isn’t?

Mixed messages

Much of the pandemic has been filled with mixed messages and employees can be forgiven for being confused about what is wanted or expected from them. In addition, these expectations are now sometimes at odds with what people have got used to or feel comfortable with. While there is no right answer to these issues, one of the most important things as an employer you can do now, is try and ensure your business expectations are clearly communicated and that the opportunity for discussion is available to your entire team.

Changing policies

Compounding the uncertainty is the very recent introduction of new policies for employees, including the right to request remote or flexible working from their first day of employment. These new rights provide a positive move forward for employees balancing work life and home life, and their introduction has been promoted widely. However, the criteria on which employers can agree or refuse a request to work remotely are less clear, which if not handled correctly, has the potential to lead to further uncertainty, misunderstandings and resentment.

Travel bans

The confusion continues when you look at the scenario of face-to-face meetings, events and traveling for work. Again, this is creating confusion and consternation for employers and employees alike. The pandemic has shown that technology can enable close collaboration without leaving your home, but there are still many situations where in-person meetings are incredibly valuable.

While some companies still have blanket travel bans in place – which, ostensibly is for the safety of their employees, but is also in fact saving the business substantial amounts of money in terms of time, travel, accommodation and subsistence – others are pushing their teams to do more than what they necessarily feel comfortable with. Again, there isn’t a clear-cut solution to. Government guidance is ambiguous and business needs differ from company to company.

Finding your way in the ‘new normal’

It is easy to get lost in the economic, health, and ethical decisions of the current business landscape. In truth, the ultimate outcome to this new ‘normal’ may well turn out to be a compromise – a hybrid solution that takes all the different elements into consideration. However, one thing is certain, open communication with your team is crucial to enabling you to find your way through the maze and discover the right balance for both the business and the individual.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.